Sometimes I do Weeks. Like, after a particularly indulgent, steak-eating holiday, when we get home, we do Thin Week, where we try to eat light, healthy meals to compensate a bit for what went before. This week, for no particular reason other than that internet research over the week led me to links like these – Is Sugar Toxic?, Is there a foetal sugar syndrome? and Sugar as Poison – I am doing Sugar-Free Week. I told Jon I was doing it and he huffed and puffed and said “does that mean a whole week without Percies?” I replied, “I said I’M doing Sugar-Free Week. YOU don’t have to” and he said, “Well obviously I do if you are… if there’s a THING happening, then obviously I’m doing it as well.” There’s no THING but there is a bandwagon going, so together we are doing Sugar-Free Week.
However, I’m actually not sure about Sugar-Free Week, for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t really like this whole craze of removing entire food groups from your diet for health reasons (unless, of course, there’s a live health reason, like diabetes). I particularly dislike carb-dodgers, who will eat fat and sugar and all kinds of rubbish but never Evil Wholewheat Bread or Terrible Brown Rice.
(As an aside, this reminds me of when my dad decided that he wasn’t going to eat melon, grapes or bananas anymore because they were “full of sugar”. Cake? No problem. Biscuits? Totally fine. Chocolate? You’ve got to have a square of chocolate after a meal. But melon? Take that lump of sugar away!)
I just feel that in a normal healthy diet, eaten by a normal, healthy person of normal, healthy size, there is room for all food groups. And also I think there has to be a balance struck between health and enjoyment. I really enjoy eating, and I think it is one of life’s pleasures. Unless you really have to, I think it’s a bit hair-shirted to deny yourself some bad-for-you things some of the time.
Secondly, I actually don’t think I eat that much sugar. I do love my dark chocolate and I eat some every day. I also eat, sometimes, ice cream, more chocolate, and home-made desserts once a week. But I don’t drink fizzy drinks or juice (two of the major culprits, apparently), and I don’t tend to eat sugary snacks every day – I’d rather eat crisps. Mmm… salty, delicious, crispy crisps.
But, I do think I eat more sugar than I used to, particularly since having a baby. Since I read this article several months ago I started to think that this kind of eating was out of habit and, since I had acknowledged that, it should now be easy to stop, but it actually wasn’t. So Sugar-Free Week is an experiment: will I miss sugar, and will eating less of it make me feel better? Perhaps a week isn’t really long enough to find this out, but we’ll see.
All of this segues nicely into the recipe I want to share with you, which is for (absolutely not sugar-free) chocolate mousse. This was the last sugary thing I ate, as I made it this weekend, and so it was a perfect start to Sugar-Free Week.
This dessert obviously doesn’t fit the category of baby-friendly as even if you are OK with the sugar, the raw eggs are a definite no. But it is in the category of quick and easy things to make. This is the perfect quick dessert to make for friends or to take to friends for dinner – although it needs time to set, so it’s not the perfect dessert to make at 7pm just before your friends arrive. Make it the day before and it will be perfect. I should also add that it’s only a super quick dessert if you have an electric whisk (or Kitchen Aid/Kenwood style food mixer). If you don’t, it is possible to do with a hand whisk but I wouldn’t bother.
This recipe is unadapted, straight from Delia. I am always being complimented on it:
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 4 fl oz water
- 1 ½ oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- Break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a large bowl (stainless steel or heat-proof glass) over a saucepan of boiling water. It is difficult, but not impossible, to burn the chocolate doing it this way (you’ll know if you burned it as it will separate into a grainy part and an oily part) so keep an eye on it and stir it regularly. You want to end up with a totally smooth chocolate paste, and when you have this, take the bowl off the heat and put aside to cool.
- Separate the eggs, putting the yolks aside, and putting the whites into another large bowl to be whisked. Whisk with electric mixer until they have formed soft peaks, and then add the sugar, a little at a time, until the whites are glossy.
- Add the yolks to the chocolate and stir again until it is smooth.
- Then add one spoon of whites to the chocolate and mix it in to loosen it up. Next, using a metal spoon, add the whites to the chocolate by using chopping motions, or “folding and cutting” – not stirring, as the aim is to retain the air, which will be lost if you stir.
- Pour the mousse into another bowl or into individual martini glasses if you like, and put in the fridge to let it set.
This serves around 6, but obviously depends on how greedy you/your guests are.
*Approximate nutritional values*
- Calories: 223kcal
- Carbs: 60g
- Fat: 43g
- Protein: 13g
- Sugar: 43g
- Sodium: 68mg